• Jana Zuniga Pingel

I don't know where else to go but Calvary

I remember the first day I was truly gripped by the desire for motherhood. I was sitting on a borrowed bed in an otherwise empty room taking some much needed alone time. I was spending the year as a volunteer in a home of hospitality for homeless pregnant mothers. It was a Marian feast day and I spontaneously started praying the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” Tears started dripping down my cheeks. It was the first time I had let my heart admit to God that I had developed a deep desire for motherhood. I remember whispering the words out loud to him: “I want to be a mom.” I was 24 and had yet to start dating my husband, but my heart opened that day. It was an opening that has only grown deeper and wider since then, creating a space for God’s biggest miracles.


Four years later, I married my husband Tim. He was the man I had prayed for to St. Joseph, and the Lord’s fidelity became so evident through his love. He came from a family of seven children, and my own family had eleven. Growing a “big Catholic family” of our own was our biggest and brightest dream. Since our wedding day, there has never been an occasion of “avoiding” pregnancy for us.


Three months after our wedding, we started working with a Catholic reproductive specialist to be proactive. We were pretty eager to start our family and I had a close friend working there who asked if she could practise teaching NFP with us. We were not expecting the journey that lay ahead. We had no idea that “infertility” was going to become part of our word bank. Six months later, after diligent testing, medications and blood work, we still weren’t pregnant and our big dreams started to deflate.


I didn’t expect the disappointment and sadness to hit us so fast, but it sure did. Month after month, one negative pregnancy test after another, our hopes would build and crash down over and over again. Two years later, this sadness has turned into grief and the road has been uniquely lonely. Those daydreams of our future family have become painful images that physically hurt my heart. Every holiday and anniversary that passes is bittersweet with the reminder of another mile marker lived without our children. I say “our children” because I know they exist in God’s eternal plan already. I deeply believe that.


So where do we go with this gaping hole in our hearts? That opening that started growing six years ago? What do we do in the waiting, the hoping, the yearning? I don’t know where else to go but Calvary. The place where redemptive suffering consumes every broken heart that God has ever and will ever create.


I touch the gaping holes in his hands, his feet and his side. His holes aren’t empty. They are a wellspring of love, new life, healing and abundance. They are remnants of his greatest miracle. I beg him to transform this hole in my heart from bitterness to gratitude. From confusion to childlike trust. From fear to humble confidence. From sadness to joy. Make my wounds beautiful like yours, Jesus.


While this cross doesn’t make any sense to us right now, I can find rest in the grain of the wood. He is on the other side, doing the heavy lifting. Every time I think I want my cross to have a different shape, I am reminded that He knows me, and He knows me deeply. He who molded the shape of my nose and carved out a space under my heart to create my womb. He said “this is good” when He created me. He desires good gifts for me too.


My cross is not a punishment or a curse. It is an invitation into the heart of God. I can complain and question and cry out to God, “why us? Why this? Why Me?” But then I catch a glimpse of his gaze on the other side of the wood. He looks at me with love and He is with me. I don’t hear answers, but I see the eyes of my Father.


That empty space in my heart is the stage for God’s biggest miracles.


In the meantime, I am asking God to anoint that space with the fruits of patience, trust, endurance and abundant love. As the Gospel reading at our wedding Mass said, “He filled them to the brim”. He is saving the good wine for us, and we will wait until kingdom come to drink it.


“Yes Spirit

Come and fill this place

Let Your glory now invade

Spirit come and fill this place

Let your glory now invade”

(Jeremy Riddle)

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